(Camden, NJ) – The City of Camden has released its first ever Parks and Open Space Plan, the culmination of a collaborative effort that engaged over 500 community members and stakeholders over twelve months in developing a vision for the future of the City’s park system. Authored by Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and The Trust for Public Land in close partnership with the City of Camden, Camden County, and the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, the Camden Parks and Open Space Plan creates a roadmap for how to achieve the goal of the 10-Minute Walk promise. Camden Mayor Frank Moran signed on to the 10-Minute Walk campaign, a nationwide movement led by The Trust for Public Land, National Recreation and Park Association, and Urban Land Institute, in 2018 to ensure that all City residents have safe, easy access to a high-quality park within a 10-minute walk of home by 2050.
“When I signed on to the 10-Minute Walk campaign almost three years ago, I committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that all Camden residents have safe, easy access to a high-quality park within a 10-minute walk of their home,” said Camden Mayor Frank Moran. “This plan is the roadmap to achieving that goal, and my administration and I are eager to continue this rewarding work.”
The development of the plan was generously supported by the Sidney and Sandy Brown Foundation, and guided by a group of over 50 stakeholder organizations. Informed by a robust community engagement effort and a sophisticated geographic information system analysis, the plan identifies opportunities to prioritize open space investment that will maximize community benefits while improving the city environment and addressing systemic inequities. The following eight high-level objectives are the foundation for the plan’s implementation strategy: 1) create safer recreation environments, 2) increase high-demand park amenities, 3) improve maintenance, 4) increase programming, 5) maximize climate resilience, 6) increase park funding, 7) give community members more information, and 8) increase collaboration between stakeholders.
“We are proud of the community and data-driven plan we have created,” said Cooper’s Ferry Partnership CEO and President Kris Kolluri. “We feel that it is representative of the needs and wants of Camden’s diverse population and formulates an equitable, inclusive, and implementable vision for the future of Camden’s park system.”
“The Camden community is filled with skilled organizers and leaders who are passionate about the future of their city. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to help bring this diverse group of stakeholders together to make the city greener, more resilient, and more livable,” said Owen Franklin, Pennsylvania State Director for The Trust for Public Land, “Our organization looks forward to collaborating with community, nonprofit, private, and public sector leaders for years to come.”
The Trust for Public Land has been working with the Camden community for years to make the city greener, more climate resilient, and more equitable. This work includes the Green + Healthy Camden a publicly available decision-making tool. Recognizing that redevelopment of parks and schoolyards are tools for advancing community cohesion, The Trust for Public Land has been working with community members to create green-infrastructure parks and schoolyards , including at the Cooper’s Poynt Family School, the Rafael Cordero Molina School, Mastery Charter High School and Dominick Andujar Park. In addition, the Parks for People Camden Program is leading the NEA funded Environmental Justice Theatre Project.
Recognizing the key role that parks play anchoring strong communities, over $100 million have been invested in Camden’s park system over the last decade, with an additional $25 million investment anticipated over the next five years. The Parks and Open Space Plan will guide these efforts, and implementation is already underway.
“Camden County is committed to improving the quality of life for its residents through park investment,” said Camden County Commissioner Jeffrey L. Nash. “From capital investments to long-term maintenance, the County has a long history of supporting parks in the City of Camden. We are excited to build on the momentum generated through the Camden Parks and Open Space Plan.
“As the CCMUA continues its work to address combined sewage flooding, it welcomes the opportunity to collaboratively re-envision Camden parks to incorporate stormwater capture components,” said Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) Executive Director Scott Schreiber. “This plan demonstrates the unique way that parks can help the City of Camden reach this goal.”
According to the 10-Minute Walk campaign, a city of well-connected green spaces is more resilient to extreme environmental events, such as heat waves and extreme rainfall. The campaign also states that children’s use of parks increases by 400% when parks are located closer to home – and that greater access to parks is associated with lower body mass index and reduced risk of obesity. Additionally, the current COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of parks in dense urban areas for physical and mental health.
To download the plan, please click here.
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org. Our Parks for People Camden Program works to advance climate resilience and community health through the co-creation of parks, schoolyards and green infrastructure in Camden neighborhoods.
Cooper’s Ferry Partnership is a Camden-based nonprofit community and economic development corporation that serves as a catalyst for the preservation and growth of a vibrant City of Camden. Since its founding in 1984, CFP has utilized strategic planning as the framework to implement initiatives to improve the quality of life for people in the City of Camden. CFP’s holistic approach includes empowering residents to create, manage, and sustain their visions for healthy, strong, and vibrant communities through resident-driven planning and working in partnership with government, institutional, and community stakeholders to fund and implement equitable programs, projects, and initiatives. Working with residents, stakeholders, and community-based organizations, CFP leverages technical expertise, process-oriented convening, and strong collaborative relationships to address the persistent challenges facing the City of Camden. CFP is currently managing park development and renovation projects and initiatives throughout the City of Camden. www.coopersferry.com.